WORKS: L’histoire de Babar
PERFORMER: Jeanne Moreau (reciter)Jean-Marc Luisada (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 439 767-2 DDD
This is a piano recital with an imaginative twist. Jeanne Moreau not only treats us to the story of Babar the elephant, but also reads out Satie’s directions to the performer written in the scores of several of his piano works. These range from indications of mood and nuance to a whimsical running commentary on the work in question which usually remains something of a private joke between the composer and the pianist. Punctuating the Satie part of this generously filled disc is his notorious Vexations, which, rather than being repeated the 840 times requested by the composer, emerges intermittently between groups of pieces, thus giving the impression of a much longer performance.
With the exception of an inexorably slow rendition of Gymnopédie No. 1, Jean-Marc Luisada’s stylish playing will not disappoint, especially in Sports et divertissements. Originally improvised for one of his nieces, Poulenc’s music for L’histoire de Babar is a real delight and this performance can be warmly recommended, although it would have been helpful to have had it split into several tracks. Some people may tire of Moreau’s voice, especially in the Satie, but this is nevertheless an innovative and extremely enjoyable disc. Texts and translations are provided for the Poulenc, but not for the Satie. Christopher Dingle